Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Capitol Journalists Opt to Lay Rep. Grimm’s Threat to Rest

The organization representing broadcast journalists on Capitol Hill on Monday opted not to engage on Rep. Michael G. Grimm’s threat to throw NY1 television reporter Michael Scotto off a Rotunda balcony.

Radio-Television Correspondents Association Chairman Frank Thorp, who reports for NBC News, said the New York Republican’s behavior following the State of the Union was “clearly unacceptable” and it would have been “alarming” if Grimm stuck with his initial unapologetic statement, instead of later issuing a public apology.

“Obviously we condemn that kind of behavior,” Thorp said during the first RTCA executive committee meeting since the Jan. 28 outburst. “But aside from that, … [I’m] not really sure what kind of advantage there would be for us to engage any further.”

Capitol Police sources initially kept quiet about potential charges for Grimm’s threat, then confirmed that after questioning Scotto they would not be pressing charges against Grimm. The RTCA, which represents more than 3,600 broadcast journalists who report on Congress, was the only body in the Capitol still investigating potential repercussions for Grimm.

“A reporter asked a valid question, and then was threatened,” said Olga Ramirez Kornacki, director of the House Radio-Television Correspondents’ Gallery, before introducing NY1’s representative at Monday’s meeting.

Jennifer Babich, the station’s D.C. bureau chief, said NY1 would like to “mend fences” with Grimm’s office and move forward “as best as possible.”

Scotto was invited by the RTCA to attend the meeting, but he could not make it because of illness.

“In the court of public opinion, people have made a decision,” Babich said, in reference to the thousands of responses the station has received since the incident that largely support NY1’s reporting. She confirmed that Scotto has no interest in pressing charges or pursuing any legal action.

Babich, who was on the balcony during the interview with Grimm, said the station put “no parameters” on the interview. During the live interview, Scotto asked Grimm about campaign finance problems, prompting the congressman to walk away.

“Michael turned to address the camera, and wrap up the interview and explain to viewers why [Grimm] had walked away,” Babich said of Scotto. “I’m speculating here, but that is, I believe, what angered the congressman  and that is when he walked back into our frame and threatened my reporter.

“We were all very surprised,” she added.”It was not something we had encountered [from] the congressman before.” Babich has been at the helm of the D.C. bureau since it was established in July 2011. 

Grimm invited Scotto to lunch the following day, an invitation NY1 initially accepted.

Babich said they have not taken Grimm up on the lunch offer, but the station is in talks with his office about a potential interview about the incident.

  • NepotismIsDomesticTerrorism

    Frank Thorp and every member of the Radio-Television Correspondents Association is either:

    A. On the take (offshore) from the 535 members of Congress and K Street;
    B. Eager to circle the veritable wagons and protect the Georgetown Cocktail Club at all costs;
    C. Acting in strict accordance with the dictates of AIPAC and its boss, Yisrael-Beiteinu; and/or,
    D. Terrified that Congress and K Street will shut off their precious elbow-rubbing access to the “movers and shakers”.

    This way, we can be assured that the next Yahoo will either assault or shoot a member of the Radio-Television Correspondents Association. We can only hope that the victim in that case is Thorp and/or whomever Thorp is fooling around with on the side.

  • Dave Johnson

    The 4th Estate gives a pass to Grimm? Cowards. All of you.

  • Ocean Sprayz

    While democratic processes can support liberty, centralized bureaucracy and administrative socialism must inevitably restrict it.

  • Fresh Mountain Air

    If we are to be free, our rewards must be determined by the usefulness of our abilities rather than subjective merit judgments by others.

  • Dokter Lekter

    What this does is reinforce the fact that Congressmen and Senators believe they are above the law. There are automatic penalties for you or I if we were to engage in an action like that of Grimm; yet he is not penalized for what would send you or I to jail. Grimm should face the same jeopardy that the common man faces for such behavior; additionally, his punishment should be automatic because he is abusing the power that we the people endow him with. He and his colleagues would learn that they cannot treat the greater constituency in any fashion they choose. Lock him up!

  • Bob Stauskas

    Standing against the injustice of plunder in no way implies that one regards advancement of the less fortunate as an unworthy cause.

  • ExVariable

    Given civilization’s incalculable amount of knowledge, the amount that a single mind can make use of is but a tiny fraction of the total.

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